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E. J F Arnould
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
E. J F Arnould
Bulletin of the John Rylands Library

This source book offers a comprehensive treatment of the solitary religious lives in England in the late Middle Ages. It covers both enclosed anchorites or recluses and freely-wandering hermits, and explores the relation between them. The sources selected for the volume are designed to complement better-known works connected with the solitary lives, such as the anchoritic guide Ancrene Wisse, or St Aelred of Rievaulx’s rule for his sister; or late medieval mystical authors including the hermit Richard Rolle or the anchorite Julian of Norwich. They illustrate the range of solitary lives that were possible in late medieval England, practical considerations around questions of material support, prescribed ideals of behaviour, and spiritual aspiration. It also covers the mechanisms and structures that were put in place by both civil and religious authorities to administer and regulate the vocations. Coverage extends into the Reformation period to include evidence for the fate of solitaries during the dissolutions and their aftermath. The material selected includes visual sources, such as manuscript illustrations, architectural plans and photographs of standing remains, as well as excerpts from texts. Most of the latter are translated here for the first time, and a significant proportion are taken from previously unpublished sources.

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Self-fashioning and sanctity in late medieval English mystical literature
Jessica Barr

4 Modelling holiness: self-fashioning and sanctity in late medieval English mystical literature Jessica Barr ‘Dere lord Ihesu mercy, þat welle art of mercy, why wyl not myn herte breste and cleue in-two?’1 So begins the shorter of Richard Rolle’s Meditations on the Passion, a fourteenth-century affective devotional text that describes the speaker’s imagined witnessing of Christ’s passion. Noteworthy here is the use of pronouns: while the Meditations is in a large sense for its audience’s spiritual benefit, the speaker’s focus is on his own emotional state; it is

in Sanctity as literature in late medieval Britain
Liz Herbert McAvoy
Naoë Kukita Yoshikawa

Chapter 58 of The Book of Margery Kempe documents how a priest new to Bishop’s Lynn takes on an eight-year commitment to read scriptural and devotional works to Margery Kempe, thus enhancing both her and his own spiritual expertise. Amongst the works they read and discuss together are Bridget of Sweden’s revelations, works by Walter Hilton, Bonaventure, and Richard Rolle. At the end of the list, however, Kempe offers a seemingly throwaway reference to ‘swech oþer’ works they also shared: ones which, so we contend, must have been both varied and numerous to fill up an eight-year period and which found their way into Margery’s writing in often covert – and possibly even unconscious – ways, as part of the Book’s strategy of authorisation. Although not named amongst the works listed in the Book, we argue that the ‘swech oþer’ texts, a term tantalisingly appended to the list of named books presented, would likely have included the thirteenth-century Liber specialis gratiae attributed to the Saxon nun Mechthild of Hackeborn (d. 1298). Drawing on some of the most vivid and compelling correlations between the two texts, we argue not only for Kempe’s familiarity with Mechthild’s writing but also for a much more central positioning of this earlier work within the literary and spiritual cultures of fifteenth-century England than has generally been understood.

in Encountering The Book of Margery Kempe
E.A. Jones

Introduction Some time in the 1320s the young Yorkshireman Richard Rolle dropped out of Oxford and returned home. Soon afterwards, he took two of his sister’s dresses and his father’s rainhood to a nearby wood and, with a bit of amateur tailoring, fashioned a kind of habit for himself. Putting it on, he arrived at ‘a confused likeness to a hermit’ [ 47 ]. The anecdote makes it clear

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
Michelle M. Sauer

new type of spiritual expression was the road, both metaphorical and physical. Metaphorical roads, labour and work in late eremitic literature The great hermit writers of the late Middle Ages, Richard Rolle, Walter Hilton and the Cloud of Unknowing author, to some degree all use the metaphor of the road.20 For Rolle, the idea of the road is akin to life on earth. That is to say, that life on earth is transitory and a journey, with the ultimate goal being achievement of unification with God in heaven and the fervour of divine love. Humanity’s true work is to love God

in Roadworks
Suzanne Conklin Akbari

Christ’s blood, previously understood to appear in the form of the wine, had come to be of lesser importance. Far from it: the late Middle Ages saw a flowering of devotion to the Passion which included, as a crucial element of the supplicant’s affective response, a special focus on the blood flowing from the wounds of Christ. The early fourteenth-century mystic Richard Rolle, for example, uses the blood of Christ as a kind of repeated refrain to focus his contemplation: Swet Jhesu, I thank the with al my hert for al that blode that thou so plenteuously bled in thy

in Pulp fictions of medieval England
E.A. Jones

. He should not have more clothes than he needs, but if he does have any to spare, he should give them to the poor. 21. Richard Rolle on food and drink, from The Form of Living Richard Rolle, Yorkshire hermit and the first of the so-called ‘fourteenth-century English mystics’, is known for his forthright personality and the overflowing rapture of his mystical writings. 30 Here, however, his

in Hermits and anchorites in England, 1200–1550
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In search of pre-Reformation English spirituality
R. N. Swanson

lengthy works of spiritual guidance. Much is anonymous; some falsely foisted on to the great vernacular spiritual writers of the period, like Richard Rolle; other works are correctly attributed to named individuals. Again, this presents problems, because of the way texts were treated; and from the 1470s there is the additional complication of the impact of printing as it affected aspects of spirituality

in Catholic England